July 4th Workshop Reflection

So yesterday I worked hard on the 4th of July in an all day workshop – Designing Quality Interactive Projects for Videoconferencing. 18 participants from the U.S., Mexico, Japan, and New Zealand connected all day to 4 teachers from Cobourg District Collegiate Institute East (link their website), Cobourg, Ontario. At the end of the day we connected to Carol Daunt from the Learning Technologies User Group in Sydney Australia.

The international flavor of the participants and connections brought up several conversations about international connections and how to best work around the time zones. We talked about www.timeanddate.com and how to use the Meeting Planner to find out which time will work best. Often it means you have to connect outside of school time and so does your partner school. It’s very helpful to visit the site ahead of time before even approaching an international partner so you can immediately see what time will work best for each location.

We spent the day in two major categories of videoconference projects: (1) exchange projects such as Read Around the Planet and Michigan Week Exchange (communities & environment exchanges), and (2) multipoint projects such as MysteryQuest.

As a result of jumping straight into presenting and experiencing sample student projects, the participants learned various lessons about videoconferencing. After each experience we talked about what we learned about VC – how to interact with microphones, camera presets, lighting issues, how often calls get dropped, what makes the experience a quality experience, and more.

The participant presentations were wonderful to watch, even with limited time to prepare. We had oral reading of poetry, a celebration of international holidays, a presentation on pesticide laws in Cobourg, Ontario, and creative presentations with clues to find beaches around the world. The participants really engaged in their presentations and experienced what it takes to make a quality videoconference presentation.

Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to create projects on the collaborativeVCs wiki site. But stay tuned for future projects created in other workshops.

One of my main take-aways from the workshop is the huge value of networking. I say this all the time…. “the more people you know with access to VC, the more VCs you can do” …. but it was reaffirmed again in the workshop. We spent significant time sharing what each participant was doing with VC, and I learned from the sharing too! Thank you to all the participants and remote locations who took the time to connect on the 4th of July!

Conference Tags: necc necc06

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